Regardless of its severity, a car crash is in and of itself traumatic for both parties. Add to that the lack of knowledge as to how to proceed next, however, and it suddenly gains a more horrifying dimension. Even with the know-how at the ready, it can be hard to even think about what just happened to you, let alone a bullet point list of things to do.
Our detailed, step-by-step guide will definitely help you to ground yourself should you ever be involved in a car crash.
1. Check Yourself for Injuries
Your safety comes first. You may be injured without even knowing it, the fresh shock of the ordeal masking your pain. Make sure you don’t require medical attention and then check with the other driver to see whether you should call an ambulance.
It’s always best to get checked for any injuries. Not all car accident injuries will show up right away. Some of them, such as concussions or whiplash, take some time to show up. Being checked by paramedics and having your injuries treated and documented right away will reduce the risk of putting your life in danger.
2. Call the Police and the Insurance Company
The main role that the Police plays at the site of a car crash is to record the accident as an objective third party. They will assist with the exchange of information between you and the other driver, as well as file in a report that will prove useful in the insurance-claiming process.
Once the Police have done their job, you can call your insurance company to let them know about the accident. Keep in mind that some companies can double their interest rates in the aftermath of a car crash, especially if you caused it.
3. Do Not Settle on the Roadside
In an attempt to save themselves a bureaucratic hassle, some people choose to pay the other party involved in the crash out of their own pocket. This practice is not at all recommended, because the car might have suffered internal damage that can’t be assessed on the spot and therefore you’ll just have dug yourself into a deep financial hole. Of course, there are other pitfalls to settling privately than this.
4. Collect Evidence
Gathering information will help you later. After all, the last thing you want to do is let the culprit get out of this unpunished. Get all the proof you need to increase your chances of being compensated for your injuries when the other driver caused them.
You can document a lot of things at the accident place. Some of the most useful ones will be videos and photos of the crash site, names of witnesses and their contact information, videos and photos of car damage, and videos and photos of physical injuries.
Another thing you should remember is to get the name and badge number of the police officers that arrive at the scene and take your report. Then, you must ask the officers for a copy of the accident report.
5. Hire an Attorney
Even with all the evidence in the world, it can be challenging to win a personal injury case without an experienced lawyer. Take your time to browse the best auto accident attorneys in your geographical region for the best outcome.
If you live in South Carolina, it’ll be easy to find a South Carolina auto accident lawyer to help you with the case, so search for attorneys around Charleston, Columbia, or other regions. But make sure you move quickly! South Carolina has a statute of limitations of three years from the date of the accident or the date you became/should’ve become aware that you could file a lawsuit.
6. File a Claim
The choice to file a claim depends on two factors: the damage to your car (or the other parties, for that matter) and your insurance deductible. If you were the victim and the damages to your vehicle are significant, you should consider hiring an experienced car accident lawyer to assist you with the claim. This will also prevent you from settling for the pittance that some insurance sharks will try to make you accept. Moreover, if you were the victim in the accident, an attorney might sweeten the pot with your insurance company.
If it so happens that the injuries to both you and your vehicle are beyond what an insurance settlement could do, you have every right to file a lawsuit and take your case to court.
The distress that a car crash causes is immense and cannot be overestimated. There is no shame whatsoever in not springing to one’s feet and doing everything by the book in an instant. We hope you’ve found this guide helpful and that you may never need to use it.